Background scores take center stage at Midem

CANNES: Film soundtracks are a bum rap. And television backgrounds scores, well are they really important?

That was an issue up for discussion at the Music for Images panel at Midem, the world's biggest music market in the Palais de Festivals in Cannes, France. And the verdict was that it is the studios themselves who are to blame for. The three panelists, Germany's X Film creative People's Wolfgang Becker, Jason Bentley of Machine Head and Fox Music head Robert Kraft echoed the same sentiment.

Caustically Kraft observed, "The studios have basically spoiled the market. Soundtracks on the whole are doing badly. After the humungous success of Titanic where we did sales of 20 million units, we had many offers. So we crowbarred bad songs in movies. The sound tracks were boneless and we ended up killing the golden goose."

He pointed out that major movie soundtracks have been notching sales of 15,000-100,000 or even less.

Becker said that the sound track of international success Run Lola Run made a lot of money while that of Goodbye Lenin did not, though the composer had met with some success earlier with Ameilie.

Kraft also pointed out that the soundtrack of a movie has to fit with its ambience, the story. "It is the last bit of creative that goes into the movie which helps enhance its storyline," said Kraft. "You cannot just have compilations of unrelated tracks being bundled together to get a soundtrack album for sale on retail shelves."

He added, "Hollywood is jingoistic, insular... only now have they discovered that the volumes lie outside." Kraft referred to a new animation movie Robot, which is resorting to singles specific for each market. For instance the US, Japan and Sweden. A ploy that was used rather unsuccessfully in Spiderman 2 in India.

The panelists agreed that the budgets for television background scores are very limited as compared to film, but once a TV music composer plods away at TV, there will come a time when he gets that big break into Hollywood which will make his career. "TV is a great training ground," said Kraft. He also said often it is the girlfriend of the producer and director who decided who would be deciding the person who would do the music in Hollywood.

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